The lawyer regarded Herbert with a smile.
"Your uncle's will doesn't seem to have given general satisfaction," he said.
"No," responded Herbert; "but for my part I have come out as well as I expected."
"I suppose you know Mr. Carter was rich?"
"So my mother told me."
"How much do you think he was worth?"
Herbert was rather surprised at this question. Why should the lawyer ask it, when of course he knew much more about the matter?
"About a hundred thousand dollars, I suppose," he answered.
"You are not far wrong. Now doesn't your share, and your mother's, seem very small compared with this large amount?"
"It is very small compared with that, but we had no claim to anything.
The clothes and the money will be very useful to us."
"You are a model heir," said Mr. Spencer, smiling "You alone do not find fault, except, of course, Miss Nancy, who has fared the best."
"I would rather make a fortune for myself than inherit one from another," said Herbert, sturdily.
"I respect your independence, my boy," said the lawyer, who felt favorably disposed toward our hero. "Still, a legacy isn't to be despised. Now tell me when you want to take your trunk."
"I want to ask your advice about that," said Herbert. "I walked over from Wrayburn. How shall I carry the trunk back?"
"You will have to return by the stage to-morrow morning, that is, if you are ready to go back so soon."
"Do they charge much to stop overnight at the hotel?" asked Herbert, anxiously, for he had but seventy-five cents with him. It occurred to him how foolish he had been not to consider that it would be necessary for him to spend the night in Randolph.
"I don't know exactly how much. I think they charge fifty cents for a bed, and the same for each meal."
Herbert's face lengthened, and he became alarmed. How was he going to manage, on his limited resources?
The lawyer penetrated his perplexity, and, being a kind-hearted man, quickly came to his relief.
"I think you would find it lonely at the hotel, my boy," he said, "and
I shall therefore invite you to pass the night at my house instead."
"You are very kind, sir," said Herbert, gratefully, finding his difficulty happily removed. "I accept your invitation with pleasure."
"The boy has been well brought up, if he is poor," thought Mr. Spencer. "Well," he said, "that is settled. I think our supper must be ready, so we will go over to the house at once. By the way, there is a boy from your town visiting my son. You must know him?"
"Is it James Leech?" asked Herbert, remembering what James had told him.
"Yes. Do you know him?"
"We are schoolmates."
"Then it will be pleasant for you to meet."
Herbert was not quite sure about this, but forbore to say so.
He accompanied Mr. Spencer to his house, which was just across the street from the office, and followed the lawyer into an apartment handsomely furnished. James Leech and Tom Spencer were sitting at a small table, playing checkers.
"Hello, Carter!" exclaimed James, in surprise, "how came you here?"
"Mr. Spencer invited me," said Herbert, not surprised at the mode of address.
"Did your uncle leave you anything?" asked James, with interest.
"He left my mother a hundred dollars."
"That isn't much," said James, contemptuously. "Was that all?"
"No, he left me a trunk, and what is in it."
"What is in it?"
"Clothes, I believe."
"A lot of old clothes!" commented James, turning up his nose. "That's a fine legacy, I must say."
"I shall find them useful," said Herbert, quietly.
"Oh, no doubt. You can roll up the pants and coat-sleeves. It will be fun to see you parading round in your uncle's tailcoats."
"I don't think you'll have that pleasure," said Herbert, flushing. "If
I wear them I shall have them made over for me."
"I congratulate you on your new and extensive wardrobe," said James, mockingly. "Won't you cut a dash, though, on the streets of Wrayburn!"
Herbert did not deign a reply to this rude speech. Tom Spencer, who was much more of a gentleman than James, was disgusted with his impertinence. He rose, and took Herbert by the hand.
"You must let me introduce myself," he said. "My name is Thomas
Spencer, and I am glad to see you here."
"Thank you," said Herbert, his heart opening at the frank and cordial manner of the other. "My name is Herbert Carter, and I am very glad to make your acquaintance."
"Are you going to finish this game, Tom?" drawled James, not relishing the idea of Herbert's receiving any attention from his friend.
"If you don't mind, we'll have it another time," said Tom. "There goes the supper bell, and I for one am hungry."
At the supper table James noticed, to his secret disgust, that Herbert was treated with as much consideration as himself. Mr. and Mrs. Spencer appeared to consider them social equals, which made James very uncomfortable.
"You boys are about of an age, I suppose," said Mr. Spencer.
"I really don't know," said James, haughtily.
"You attend the same school?"
"Yes," said James, "but I expect to go to some select academy very soon. At a public school you have to associate with all classes, you know."
Mr. Spencer arched his brows, and steadily regarded the young aristocrat.
"I don't see any great distinction of classes in a country village," said he, dryly. "Besides, we are living in a republic."
"You wouldn't like to associate on equal terms with a day laborer," said James, pertly.
"I am a laborer myself," said the lawyer, smiling. "I wish I could say I were a day laborer exclusively, but sometimes I have to work into the night."
"You are a professional man, and a gentleman," said James." You don't work with your hands."
"I hope you boys will all grow up gentlemen," said Mr. Spencer.
"I shall, of course," said James.
"And you, Tom?"
"I hope so."
"And you, Herbert?"
"I hope so, too," said Herbert; "but if it is necessary to be rich to be a gentleman, I am not sure about it."
"What is your idea of a gentleman, James?" asked the lawyer.
"He must be of a good family, and wear good clothes, and live nicely."
"Is that all?"
"He ought to be well educated."
"I see you name that last which I should name first. So these constitute a gentleman, in your opinion?"
"Not always. I have known men combining all the qualifications you have mentioned, who were very far from being gentlemen, in my opinion."
"How is that, sir?" asked James, puzzled.
"They were arrogant, puffed up with an idea of their own importance, deficient in politeness."
"How well he has described James!" thought Herbert, but he was too much of a gentleman to say so.
James looked disconcerted, and dropped the subject. He thought the lawyer had some queer ideas. Why need a gentleman be polite to his inferiors? he thought, but he didn't say so.
After supper the boys went out behind the house, and feasted on peaches, which were just ripe. Herbert found Tom very social, but James took very little notice of him. Our hero did not make himself unhappy on this account. In fact, he was in unusual good spirits, and enjoyed in anticipation the pleasure of going back to Wrayburn with the welcome news of the two legacies.
About half past seven Mr. Spencer came out into the orchard.
"As the stage starts early in the morning, Herbert," he said, "we had better go over and get the trunk ready, so that you can take it home."
James Leech hoped to receive an invitation to accompany the two; but no invitation was given, and he was forced to content himself with staying behind.
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